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Content Gap Analysis: The Secret Method I Use To Dominate A Niche

by Jason Smit

If you're scratching your head and wondering why your site isn't ranking, you probably want to do a content gap analysis

A content gap analysis is the process of discovering new content opportunities for your website.

It can be used to update old articles that lack depth, or used to discover new article topic ideas.

Ready to dominate your niche?

In this article I'll show you the exact steps I use to do a content gap analysis.

How To Do A Content Gap Analysis In 3 Easy Steps

If you have an old article that is struggling to rank, here are three easy steps you can do to "close the gap" on competitors.

1. Identify Missing Topics

Type your primary keyword into Google and look at the top ranking pages.

Here's the top of the SERP for the primary keyword: content gap analysis.

serp for content gap analysis

Pay specific attention to the top 3 results - in this example it's Backlinko, Medium and Search Engine Journal.

Identify all the topics the main competitors cover that your article is missing.

Build these missing topics into your article. Try to go deeper than your competitors.

One way to go deeper is to use unique insights, anecdotes or case studies to bring your points to life.

For example, I recently updated a page on my website, Mountain IQ. It was a guide on the best 8 person tents

content gaps example

The page was old and didn't cover the topic in it's entirety.

Not only did I add more insight on top tents, but I also added a detailed FAQ, a buyers guide and insight from my recent family camping trip.

The result?

Before the update, it was sitting on page two of Google. Now it's in position 2 - a jump of 12 spots. Tasty!

result from updating content

Another way to identify missing topics and go deeper is to look at the People also ask section.

people also ask section

Create an FAQ and answer the most common People also ask questions.

Then look at the Related searches and address some of the relevant ones in your article.

related searches section

Pro Tip: When writing FAQs that target the People also ask, make sure to write the question as a header and answer directly below the question in the most straightforward language (notice how I do this at the end of this article). Then head over to the schema mark-up tool from Merkel and generate the FAQ schema for your questions and answers to add to your page. This will help you grab the featured snippet or People also ask section.

2. Identify Missing Keywords

Once you have the topics covered, next you want to make sure you've covered all bases in terms of keywords.

Nowadays, Google doesn't rank 1 page to 1 keyword.


One page can rank for 100s, and sometimes 1000s of keywords.

So identifying these semantically related keywords and building them into your article is a great way to demonstrate content depth and "close the gap".

You can discover related keywords using free blogging tools like Ubersuggest, Google Trends and Ask The Public, but to get scientific you're going to have to invest in paid tools.

Here's how I uncover every keyword in my "article universe".

Head over to Ahrefs keyword explorer and type in your primary keyword.

content gap analysis keyword

For example, I've typed in content gap analysis for this article.

Click matching terms and export the result.

content gap matching terms

Launch a keyword grouping tool. I use KeyClusters.

Upload your Ahrefs export to group keywords into topic clusters. KeyClusters use real time SERP results to group keywords that share 3 or more of the same pages on page 1 of Google.

keyclusters report

Here's the output from KeyClusters. It found 4 unique topic ideas (i.e. primary keywords that would each require a unique article). Each has a set of keyword variations. 

keyclusters insight

I can see all the keyword variations related to my primary keyword (content gap analysis) and naturally build these into my article as topical headers or in the content itself.

Here they are:

keyword variations

Pro Tip: Use a tool like Surfer SEO to identify semantically important keywords that you should build into your article. Also read our guide on semantic search.

3. Refresh Your Article

With your new content and keywords added, you're 90% of the way there in closing the gap.

Your article should now be deeply insightful and cover the topic in its entirety. It should also naturally cover the main keywords.

The final step is to refreshen up a few key features.

Specifically, you should:

  • Update the publish date. Let Google know your article has been updated.
  • Update any old internal and external links - and add more relevant links where possible.
  • Update images and multimedia where relevant.
  • Ensure grammar, spelling and readability is great by running the article through Grammarly.
  • Tighten up your formatting by adding more paragraph breaks and shortening sentences.
bad formatting meme
  • Make sure other pages link to your new updated article where relevant. A blogroll on your homepage with recent posts is always a good idea. This will help Google discover new and updated content easily.
  • Share it socially. Tell people you've gone the extra mile and updated an old guide into an amazing resource.

Advanced Content Gap Analysis (in under 10 minutes)

The 3 easy steps above are great for refreshing old content.

But what about new content? 

Where's the gap on your website here?

Here's my insane method to generate 100s of topic ideas in your niche. 

The method is a variation on the missing keywords step above, but instead of focusing the analysis at an article level, I'll show you how to apply this at a niche level.

First fire up a tools like Ahrefs (SEMRush is good too).

Go to the keyword explorer and type in a broad seed keyword that captures your niche. 

For example, let's use the broad seed keyword: "remote work".

ahrefs keyword insight

Click matching terms. 

According to Ahrefs there are over 60k keywords with the term "remote work" in them. That's a lot!

ahrefs matching terms

The context for which we want to use this term is "working remotely".

Casting my eye through the list, I noticed many of the keywords refer to a remote control not working (e.g. amazon fire stick remote work, Roku remote work, tv remote work, garage remote work etc).

You can remove these non-contextual keywords using the exclude filter in Ahrefs.

This brings the list of keywords down to 40k. Still way to big! 

Next you can remove very low search volume keywords.

For example, I set the minimum keyword volume requirement to 50 searches a month.

matching terms filtered

This modified the list down to a much more sensible 1000 keyword ideas.

Export the list and upload it to a keyword grouper like KeyClusters.

Here's a snapshot of the cluster analysis for remote work. In total the tool returned just over 400 unique article ideas. 

cluster for advanced content gap analysis

The task now is to prioritise those with relatively low difficulty and reasonable search volume.

Obviously you also want to make sure you start with the articles most relevant to your niche.

As you can see, in under 10 minutes we've done an advanced content gap analysis for the niche "remote work".

Not bad!

Content Gap Analysis Using Ahrefs

Ahrefs also has a nifty feature for content gap analysis.

The premise of the Ahrefs feature is to find keywords that your competitors rank for, but your website isn’t ranking for (outside the top 100 search results).

TL;DR: Here's a video we recorded showing you how to use the Ahrefs content gap analysis.

Start by going to the Site Explorer section in Ahrefs and pop in your website domain.

We’ve gone with our root domain because our blog content hangs off it, but if your blog content appends to a blog subdomain or suffix such as blog then be sure to include this.

ahrefs content explorer

Next, hit the search button.

You’ll want to cast your eye toward the menu tab on the left and click on Content Gap.

content gap

On the Content Gap page you’ll have the opportunity to input the names of your competitor's domains.

We entered three of Contentellect's competitors.

If you’re not sure of who your competitors are, you can use the Competing Domains feature, which can also be found on the left-hand menu tab in Ahrefs.

Hit the Show keywords button.

content gap competitors

A new page will render with a list of all the keywords that competitors are ranking for, which you aren't.

The three competitors are listed on the right under the title Highest position.

As you can see, over 1,000 keywords were identified.

competitor analysis

They are sorted by search volume with the keyword difficulty score being shown in the column to the right.

A lot of them won’t be relevant - some may be brand specific keywords, or they may sit outside your niche.

However, by thoroughly scrolling through the results you should be able to find some relevant and opportunistic keywords.

In this example, we’ve found the term “word choice” as well as related keywords like “what is word choice in writing”, “word choice definition”, and “what is word choice”.

They have an average keyword difficulty score of 8, which is relatively low. Moreover they amount to a total monthly search volume of 8,150.

This presents a fantastic opportunity for us to write a great piece of content, and with the right SEO formula we could realistically rank for this article.

Content Gap Analysis FAQ

What is content gap analysis?

Content gap analysis is an SEO methodology that focuses on creating more insightful and thorough content than those of competitors. This often means covering topics in greater detail and depth. Content gap analysis can be applied to old content that needs to be refreshed, as well as used to discover new content ideas. 

Why is content gap analysis important?

Content gap analysis is important as it helps a webmaster systematically identify content opportunities to help rank better. Deeper, more insightful content is rewarded by search engines like Google. Content gap analysis is the method you can use to discover where your content is falling short and how you can update it to "close the gap" on competitors.

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Jason Smit

Jason Smit is the CEO of Contentellect and believes that marketing success lies at the intersection of great content and quality links. With 15 years spent in agency environments, including Saatchi & Saatchi, Publicis Media and Performics, his experience is distilled into Contentellect's service offering. He holds a B.Com Marketing from the University of Cape Town and a PGDip. in Entrepreneurship.

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